What is a Slate Roof?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 January 2020
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A slate roof is a roof made from slate, a type of metamorphic rock which is highly durable, making it very suitable for roofing. It is most common to see slate roofs in regions where slate is naturally abundant, although slate shingles can also be shipped to other regions of the world. Like other types of roofing, slate has both advantages and disadvantages which should be considered before installing or repairing a slate roof.

Slate is very close-grained, and it cleaves readily into thin tiles which can be used for roofing, flooring, and other applications. This rock is typically dark in tone, varying from gray to bluish to greenish, and when it is applied properly by a professional slater, a slate roof can last for years, although occasional shingles may come off in inclement weather. The roof will also be very water-resistant, and it will be able to withstand heavy accumulations of snow.

The big disadvantage to a slate roof is that slate is very heavy, so the roof needs to be reinforced to support the shingles. Slate is also much more expensive than many alternative roofing materials, requiring a significant investment from the homeowner. However, the roof can increase the resale value of a structure, because slate roof is viewed as a luxurious amenity, and once the roof is installed, it will need less maintenance than other roofing types.


When a slate roof is installed, it is important to use an experienced slater to ensure that the roof is laid properly. It is also advisable to purchase extra shingles which can be stored so that if shingles are broken, lost, or otherwise damaged, new shingles can be installed quickly, before the subroof is damaged. Routinely checking a slate roof for missing, loose, or damaged shingles is strongly recommended, since falling slate shingles can cause serious injuries to unwitting victims.

Some home supply stores stock slate shingles, and they can also specifically order them for customers. Companies which produce slate products can ship slate shingles directly to customers, and slaters can also order shingles once a contract for a roofing job has been signed. To find a good slater, professional organizations of roofers can be consulted, and slaters should always be asked to show their contracting license and credentials, just like other construction contractors. Lack of a license may mean that the slater is not fully qualified, and it also means that it will be difficult to take the slater to court if something goes wrong.


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